Culture is a term loaded with implications, perspectives, experiences, values and practices. Its intertwined in organisations, family and nationality. We can't really escape it. We can often approach this with an over sensitivity that can get in our way of really connecting with the people we meet. Rather than allowing the curiosity of difference to guide us in getting to know that person we can get stuck on what not to do and the assumptions around this.
It's also these assumptions or perceived barriers that can easily get in the way of your ability to see greater results with your global accounts. Having spoken with 100's of key account and global account managers from different countries and industries. Here are three critical things to acknowledge so you don't fall into the trap of selling to a culture rather than the person who lives in a world of various and different cultural experiences.
Culture doesn't define a persons actions but it can influence it
Let me say this first. Does culture affect people? Yes absolutely both consciously and unconsciously we are all influenced by the norms and practices we live in. The fact remains. When managing key and global accounts you will never know what specific things will influence someone to buy based just on their cultural background. Just like any great sales person questions will get you the answers. Here a set of questions to ask your customers which might help where you are selling into different countries unknown to you:
- How would you describe organisational culture in your business? What do you believe the impact of culture has on decisions made in the business?
- What are the top three things you need to consider both for you and internally that affects how decisions are made?
- What do you believe are the emotional drivers for the current decisions in your business?
These are pretty challenging questions to ask. They need to be done in rapport and in softly introduced way. These are ground breaking as it can give you insight into the impact of buying based on a range of influences that you can explore in your strategy to add value and grow your accounts.
Every person has their own fears, desires and experiences
Its important to realise that we are human first before we are any culture. We experience emotions in similar ways, we can all be irrational and we all have different defining experiences that make us unique. With this in mind we need to position our customer conversations in the same way. Speaking with individuals with their own fears, desires and experiences. This means just like in most selling situations you have to get to know that person. Of course if you're travelling to meet someone in a place culturally opposite to you be prepared to experience buying practices that are different to yours. That doesn't change the fundamental root of effective selling. It's about people first.
You don't have to conform to a norm if its for the right reason
I was in Russia recently in partnership with someone for a C-Level meeting. It was clear that the client just wanted to get to solution and this was an accepted practice. They say whats wrong then you try and diagnose from what they've said. The company I was in partnership with was ready to jump into solution with very little information. This was clearly a pattern of behaviour that the client was used to and the company. I politely interrupted and asked this question to the C-level director "Would you be open to me asking a few more questions so that we could maximise the results from the solution we'd propose?" . The answer was yes (what c-level doesn't want to maximise results). I didn't try to undermine anyone but was able to use the moment to add value and change the behaviour to get a different result. Lesson for me and you is don't be afraid to push back but do it respectfully.
If you're a key account manager, account manager, manager of key account teams or consultant take the next step and connect to get more great insights. I'm here to help you have even more profitable client conversations and help you grow your existing customer sales and have fun in the process. Just click on the link www.jermaineedwards/signmeup look forward to helping you succeed this year.